KLCI defies Asian selldown, up 7pts, led by banks

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 13): Led by banking and oil and gas stocks, the benchmark FBM KLCI closed up 6.96 points today to 1,678.24 points, defying a selldown in most major North Asian markets.

"The KLCI was lifted by positive sentiment across banking stocks such as RHB Bank Bhd, CIMB Bank Bhd and Public Bank Bhd," said Malacca Securities Sdn Bhd analyst Kenneth Leong.

Across Bursa Malaysia, energy counters surged as the price of Brent crude oil rose for the fourth consecutive day, Leong said. Most actively traded stocks were Sapura Energy Bhd, Perdana Petroleum Bhd and KNM Group Bhd, with the energy index up 2.6% to a four-month high.

This was despite negative market breadth today with 407 counters finishing lower against 391 higher. A total of 4 billion shares valued at RM2.39 billion changed hands.

Leong opined that the KLCI could continue to rise after "having fallen quite a bit since February".

Reuters reported across Asia, shares ended lower after UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal with the European Union was voted down by British lawmakers.

Japan's Nikkei closed down 0.99%, South Korea's Kospi fell 0.41%, the Shanghai Composite dropped 1.09% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.39%.